By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Alabama Week 8 Review
The Crimson Tide suffered back-to-back losses to Georgia and Texas A&M this past week, which ended any chances they had of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Alabama’s offense struggled in both losses, as the Tide scored only 55 points at home against the Bulldogs and 53 on the road against the Aggies. Alabama (16-12, 9-7) hits the road again for its regular season finale against Tennessee this Saturday (March 4).
Auburn Week 8 Review
Auburn’s double-digit home loss to Arkansas ended any at-large hopes for the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers’ lack of defensive intensity has kept them from being one of the better teams in the league this season, and they must improve on that end of the floor if they want to take the next step as a program. Auburn (17-12, 6-10) finishes the regular season at home against Missouri on Saturday.
1. Kentucky (24-5, 14-2)
2. Florida (23-6, 13-3)
3. Arkansas (22-7, 11-5)
4. South Carolina (21-8, 11-5)
5. Ole Miss (18-11, 9-7)
6. Georgia (17-12, 8-8)
7. Vanderbilt (16-13, 9-7)
8. Texas A&M (15-13, 7-9)
9. Tennessee (15-14, 7-9)
10. Auburn (17-12, 6-10)
11. Alabama (16-12, 9-7)
12. Mississippi State (14-14, 5-11)
13. Missouri (7-21, 2-14)
14. LSU (9-19, 1-15)
Week 9 Previews and Predictions
Week 8: 6-1; season: 45-18
Saturday, March 4
Game of the Week
Florida at Vanderbilt. The Commodores surged onto the bubble for the NCAA Tournament after winning four straight games, but there’s still plenty of work to do for their resume. Vanderbilt’s strong strength of schedule helps its cause, but the Nashville squad needs wins over marquee opponents heading into the SEC Tournament. Florida had a chance to win the SEC regular season title, but its loss at Kentucky likely locked up the No. 2 seed for the Gators. Prediction: Vanderbilt 76, Florida 72.
Kentucky at Texas A&M. Kentucky looks like a team poised for a deep run into March, especially if Malik Monk continues scoring the way he did against Florida. Monk scored 30 points in the s-econd half alone against the Gators, propelling his Wildcats to likely another SEC regular season title. Kentucky is traveling to face an improving Texas A&M team, but they Wildcats should be able to take care of business on the road. Prediction: Kentucky 79, Texas A&M 71.
Alabama at Tennessee. Both the Crimson Tide and Volunteers were in position to make a push for the NCAA Tournament a few weeks ago, but a series of losses knocked both teams out of consideration. The NIT is still a possibility for both teams, but the only way either makes the Big Dance is if they win the SEC Tournament. Prediction: Tennessee 70, Alabama 65.
Georgia at Arkansas. The Razorbacks are likely going dancing regardless of Saturday’s outcome, but another win over a quality opponent can improve their seeding. The Hogs have some bad losses on the resume but also have several good wins. Georgia is hanging around on the bubble, and a road win at Arkansas would do wonders for the Bulldogs’ resume. Prediction: Arkansas 73, Georgia 67.
Missouri at Auburn. Auburn’s NCAA Tournament chances ended after losing four of five games, but the Tigers still have an opportunity to make their first postseason appearance since 2009 if they can finish the season on a strong note. Auburn might be playing on the first day of the SEC Tournament if it loses another game in the regular season, which means the Tigers would have to win five games in five days to make the NCAA Tournament. Prediction: Auburn 83, Missouri 75.
LSU at Mississippi State. Both the Tigers and Bulldogs will play during the opening night of the SEC Tournament after poor performances in conference play. LSU has struggled immensely this season, and coach Johnny Jones might not make it another season. Prediction: Mississippi State 75, LSU 69.
South Carolina at Ole Miss. South Carolina is likely headed for the NCAA Tournament, though the Gamecocks probably aren’t a lock after several losses over the last few weeks. Ole Miss is hanging around the bubble, and the best quality about the Rebels’ resume is the lack of bad losses. Ole Miss does not have many quality wins, either, but beating South Carolina would provide a boost for the Rebels’ resume. Prediction: South Carolina 71, Ole Miss 67.